The Noble Houses
From Breaking Worlds
Once a dynamic and active force in the nation, the nobility has gradually devolved into a terribly complicated feudal system held together by obligations of vassalage, blood ties, marriage alliances, and the odd bit of outright bribery and extortion. Nonetheless the noble houses collectively own most of the land in Arginet and as such are the wealthiest and best-established of the three great factions. They also have a lot of support from the more traditional branches of the priesthood.
The hierarchical structure of the nobility is headed by a small number of powerful dukes, below which are counts, barons, and hereditary knights. Their power is gained by inheritance, with the title passing to the firstborn child on the incumbent’s death. Younger children may be granted lesser titles by will, but are more often married off to other families, kept on as retainers, or sent to make a living in the priesthood or the Armies.
The nobility contain a high proportion of fay. It was once believed that this was due to their shared descent from King Estienne, but these days it is known to be the result of resonances from their estates and their deeply ingrained traditions and spiritual observances.
They are the faction worst hit by the Breaking, as previously rich lands have become unproductive or uninhabitable, and tenants have demanded extensive (and expensive) protection from monsters and other horrors. They have a lot to lose and face plenty of threats.
Five things about the Noble Houses
- Stand for your liege. Each noble owes homage to someone more powerful - a greater noble or the Crown - and is expected to know their duties to those above and below them.
- Family is everything. Power in the nobility is inherited, and each house is based on an unbroken bloodline. It is very rare for a commoner to be granted a title.
- Guardians of the old order. They have upheld the social order in Arginet since its founding, and stand opposed to anything that might upset that balance.
- Empowered by the spirits. The noble houses have a high proportion of fay, and their traditions connect them to the ancestors and the elements.
- Great riches, great risks. The treasures and estates that make up the wealth of the nobility are extensive, but under constant threat from the Breaking.
What the nobles will never do
No noble would ever countenance an attack on their tenants. Playing rough with one’s peers is acceptable; harrassing the peasantry is dishonourable in the extreme, and a tyrannical landlord may find themselves stripped of their reputation or even their title.
- Duke d’Accolon - a Wood-aligned house
- Duke de Paluc - a Fire-aligned house
- Duke Cavall - an Earth-aligned house
- Duke Ryence - a Metal-aligned house
- Duke Garanhir - a Water-aligned house
- Marriage and inheritance
- Internal matters
- Attitudes to others
- Religion and spirituality